5 Easy Summer Meals with an Israeli Twist

When I was 17, I spent an amazing summer on kibbutz in an Ulpan (Hebrew study) program.  We divided our days between work and study.  Some days, I got up at 4:30 to hop on the open truck that bumped us along rough roads to the pear fields.  (When I was hungry, I treated myself to the best pear of each bucket.)

Other days, I had kitchen duty — cleaning chickens, scrubbing enormous pots, and trying – in vain – to suggest that a fellow Ulpan student from Russia put less pepper on the liver!

Most of our foods, that summer, were fresh, simple, filling.

Here are 5 good-for-summer choices, inspired by Israeli traditions:

Israeli Breakfast: Havita (omelet) plus

Serve omelets with fresh bread and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.  Add Greek-style plain yogurt.  Time to prep and serve: 5 minutes.   

Light Lunch: Israeli salad & goat cheese in a pita

Chop and mix together finely chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and green pepper.  A good proportion is 1 large English cuke (good for its low moisture and fewer seeds) to 2 tomatoes to 1 large pepper.  Toss with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and sprinkles of sea salt and pepper.

You can also add finely chopped green spring onions, garlic, fresh parsley, or mint.

To make this a meal, scoop the salad into a pita and top with goat or feta cheese.

Time to prep and serve: 15 minutes.  (If possible, make a few hours ahead to chill well.)

Dinner on the Grill: Chicken and veggies

Grilled chicken, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini

Green salad with avocados and orange slices

Bowl of mixed olives

Couscous or tabbouleh would be lovely additions to the meal, if you have the time.

Dessert: fresh pears over ice cream

Time to prep and serve: 30 minutes (not including couscous and tabbouleh)

Post-Swimming Energy Boost:  Hummus and fruit 

Israel, one of the biggest citrus fruit producers in the world, is known for its oranges and grapefruit.  Cut one orange and one grapefruit into easy-to-hold, easy-to-eat sections.  Or grab easy-to-peel tangerines.   (I still remember the incredible flavor of a tangerine I ate, sitting on a bench next to my uncle, z”l, in  a park near Tel Aviv.  I was six.  Yet, to this day, whenever I smell a tangerine, my senses take me right back to that park.).

Add hummus and pita chips for a filling, nutritious snack.  Want to make your own hummus?  Here’s one version of hummus.

Afternoon Snack: Chocolate spread on bread

Elite Chocolates, the magical factory that wafted the lovely smell of chocolate throughout Ramat Gan (near Tel Aviv), makes a chocolate spread called, quite simply, Elite Chocolate Spread.

The first time I got this snack on kibbutz, I was surprised, then delighted.  Chocolate spread slathered on bread.  Exquisite!

It’s not like chocolate frosting.  Or Hershey’s syrup.   Think Nutella, in terms of consistency.  Here’s a chocolate spread recipe that sounds yum.  If you try it, let us know how it is.   (I can’t trust myself to make it now — I’ll eat the whole thing!)

Happy, healthy eating this summer!

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